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5 Marketing Tips for Wine Startups & Small Wineries

Establishing your wine startup in the alcohol industry can feel intimidating. We'll review the advantages, challenges, and some helpful marketing tips.

Whether you have a startup wine business or own a small winery, carving out a place for your business in the alcohol industry can feel intimidating. The good news is that there is absolutely a place for your wine business in this rapidly growing industry. In this post, we’ll discuss the advantages of being a startup business in the wine industry as well as some common challenges. We’ll also cover some proven marketing strategies you can use for your small winery business. 

Advantages of Being a Startup in the Wine Industry

It’s a Growing and Thriving Market

The wine industry is growing. Forbes reported wine sales were up by 16.8% in 2021 with no signs of slowing down. Fresh trends are emerging, and older, traditional wineries are finding significant competition in newer brands. Local wineries are becoming popular places to visit, hang out, and host events, making wine a more accessible product than it has ever been.

There are Many Options to Start

You don’t have to own your own vineyard to start your own wine business. In fact, there are plentiful white label and private label wine businesses out there that allow you to develop your own wine brand without a vineyard. You can partner with a white label company that produces generic varieties of wine en masse, which usually has a lower price point to get started. Or, you can work with a private label wine company to develop a proprietary blend exclusive to your business. Many of these companies also have marketing departments that will help you create your brand through packaging, marketing strategies, and more.

Challenges of Being a Startup in the Wine Industry

Breaking into an Established and Saturated Market

Wines Vines Analytics currently estimates there are around 11,282 wineries in the United States alone. Differentiating your wine startup from the competition is no easy task. That’s why you need to concentrate on creating a quality product and developing a solid marketing strategy. Partnering with a marketing company that primarily focuses on the wine industry can help boost your brand and build a fantastic customer base.

High Startup Cost

This challenge really only applies if you intend to establish your own vineyard for your wine business. Growing and maintaining a vineyard is expensive and time-consuming. A mature, healthy vineyard takes about three years to grow completely. Then, it takes quite a few grapes to yield a barrel of wine. One acre of vines will yield about two tons of fruit, resulting in roughly four barrels of wine, which comes out to about 1400 bottles. However, making wine from your own vineyard is highly rewarding if you’ve got the time, funds, and resources. 

5 Best Marketing Tips for Startups and Small Wineries

1. Social Media Marketing

Marketing through social media can be incredibly effective, even for wine businesses, when done correctly. More people than ever are using social media, which means there are unreached audiences waiting for your content on multiple platforms. The most important things to remember about social media marketing are to be authentic by showcasing your brand as realistically as possible and to be engaging by interacting with your followers. Millennials and younger generations have a knack for seeing through shallow, impersonal marketing efforts and tend to avoid brands that they can’t relate to.

Read more: How to Boost Alcohol Sales Using Social Media →

2. Winery Tours and Events

Speaking of relatability, nothing helps build connections quite like a fun and welcoming space. Whether you’re an upscale boutique winery or a laid-back vineyard, hosting tours and tastings are fantastic ways to invite people to your space and create lifelong customers. Host trivia or bingo nights at your space, invite food trucks, and even bring in small craft vendors to set up small pop-up shops. These all-inclusive events bring in new folks to your winery that will likely turn into loyal customers. 

3. Wine Clubs

Wine clubs are a highly profitable venture for any winery. In 2021, direct-to-consumer wine shipments exceeded $4 billion in profits, with sales from small-scale wineries rising almost 27% compared to 2020. The trend toward success for wine clubs shows no signs of slowing down, so now is the time to start a club for your own winery if you haven’t already. With a wine club, you can offer discounted wine with a monthly or yearly membership, a model that’s very enticing to consumers. But don’t stop there. Make sure to analyze the data acquired from your wine clubs by monitoring trends in sales directly influenced by your club, taking note of how long memberships typically last, reasons for cancellation, and more. Wine clubs can provide a host of metrics that give insight into how your business is performing and how you can improve.

4. Product Locator

A product locator is a must for any wine business, but it’s especially important for startups. Why? As a startup, you likely have fewer retail locations and have an overall smaller presence in stores than big-name brands. As your customer base grows, you’ll need to find ways to get your product in their hands. Wine clubs are great for serious brand fans or avid wine drinkers, but casual wine drinkers might only need a bottle every few months. That’s where a product locator like Grappos has its advantages. Your customers near and far can use a product locator to find stores and restaurants that carry your wine nearby. A great product locator can also aggregate valuable data about customer search patterns so you can find the most valuable markets for your product and arm your sales team with valuable insights they can use to increase sales. This is why Grappos is so popular with small wine businesses and startups.

Request a product locator demo from Grappos →

5. Content Marketing

Creating compelling and engaging content is a great way to not only connect with your customers but also draw in new business. You’ll need to make sure, however, that the content you create isn’t explicitly self-serving in the sense that it’s all about your company and your wine. Instead, focus on your customer. Your content strategy should reflect the interests of your target audience, not simply what’s popular or trending. Your blog could be dedicated to sharing recipes for various occasions that either include or can be paired with your wine. Write a piece about how to host an event at a winery. The options are endless, but be sure to do some research on what’s important to your customers.

A Taste of Success

Growing a wine business, much like growing a vineyard, takes time and dedication. With these insights and tools, you should have some fresh new ideas to get your startup or small winery in the spotlight. Soon, you’ll start to see your customer base grow and your business along with it.

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Eric Kunisawa

Founder & CEO

Eric Kunisawa is the founder of Grappos. He's been successfully helping businesses connect customers with their products since 2008.

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